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ERC Enhanced Grants awarded for Quantum Optics and Nanophotonics

last modified Apr 01, 2020 01:57 PM

Two top researchers in the Cavendish Laboratory working in the areas of Quantum Optics and Nanophotonics have each won a prestigious European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant, totalling nearly £5M. Professors Mete Atatüre and Jeremy Baumberg both work on diverse ways to create new and strange interactions of light with matter that is built from tiny nano-sized building blocks. A third £2M ERC Advanced Grant has been won by Prof Judith Driscoll, from Materials Science and Metallurgy, for work on nanostructured electronic materials.

 “This funding recognises the huge need for fundamental science to advance our knowledge of the world – only the most imaginative and game-changing science gets such funding” enthuses Baumberg.

“The impact of ERC funding on my group’s research had been incredible in the last 12 years, through Starting and Consolidator grants. I am very happy that with this new grant we as UK scientists can continue to play an important part in the vibrant research culture of Europe” states Atatüre.

ERC grants allow researchers to concentrate on disrupting current science. In Baumberg’s case, his PICOFORCE project is trapping light down to the size of individual atoms which will allow him to invent new ways of tugging them, levitating them, and putting them together. Such work uncovers the mysteries of how molecules and metals interact, crucial for creating energy sustainably, storing it, and developing electronics that can switch with thousands of times less power need than currently.

Atatüre’s project, PEDESTAL, investigates diamond as a material platform for quantum networks. What gives gems their colour also turns out to be highly interesting candidates for quantum computing and communication technologies, combining electronic and nuclear spins as stationary qubits with photons as flying qubits. By developing large-scale diamond-semiconductor hybrid quantum devices, the project aims to demonstrate high-rate and high-fidelity remote entanglement generation, a building block for a quantum internet.

State-of-the-art new laboratories for Quantum NanoPhotonics in the Cavendish Laboratory’s  next home, the Ray Dolby Centre building under construction at West Cambridge, have recently been specifically funded for these two research teams by a donation from Humphrey Battcock. “This timely ERC support for both research groups will bring in teams of inspired and world-class young researchers to make the most of the new resources being built for the world-leading Cavendish Labs” notes Atatüre.

Driscoll, who collaborates with Baumberg, is spearheading joint work of all three teams on low-energy IT devices at Cambridge. “My approach uses a different way of designing and creating oxide nano-scale film structures with different materials to both create new electronic device functions as well as much more reliable and uniform existing functions” says Driscoll. “Cambridge is a fantastic place that enables all our approaches to come together, driven by cohorts of inspirational young researchers in our UK-funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology – the NanoDTC”.


The research funding is provided by the European Research Council (ERC).